Sunday, March 11, 2007

Times long gone

Sunny day across the Benelux. Travelling by train still has a certain romantic flavour in it for me. Compared to flying for instance one is able to see the landscape changing. And above all, it is much more relaxing. I don’t actually mind at all that the train trip from Luxembourg to Amsterdam is six hours. I have been reading books and watching DVDs without the stress of airports.

Just finished watching The Departed, according to the Academy Awards the number one film of the previous year. Although it is well acted and rough, it still has the same problems as all the other recent Scorceses: overstretched and overmacho. And I must say that Jack Nicholson is nowadays merely repeating the grins we saw already in The Shining or As Good As It Gets. Based on my assessment Scorcese’s latest does not manage to open any new insights or make any sorts of fresh statements. It is rather perfect in the setup and in carrying its unsurprising plot but maybe perfection is exactly what it stumbles on.

Well, going through the entire Be-Ne-Lux (actually Lux-Be-Ne) in one afternoon shows also the differences of the three countries. Whereas Luxembourg is an idyllic French castle city, Brussels manages to surprise me every single time with its dirtiness. It seems shockingly run-down if one takes a look at the backyards and sides of the railtracks.

Somehow Brussels is a good miniature version of today’s Western Europe. The past glory is visible but deteriorating, daylight shows how dirty everything is, white man is not the automatic default and everyone looks rather tired.

We just got to Roosendaal which is already the Netherlands. I am reading currently the perfect book for this journey: Ian Buruma’s exciting Murder in Amsterdam going through the incidents around Theo van Gogh’s murder. But more about that later.

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